Game Preview: Raptors @ Spurs

Holly MacKenzie -

The Raptors will close out their six-game road trip in San Antonio where they’ll take on the Spurs at 8:30 P.M. ET. Toronto is coming off a 123-114 victory against the Los Angeles Lakers while the Spurs are looking to bounce back after a 114-112 overtime loss against the Hawks in Atlanta.

Tip-off: 8:30 P.M. ET

Broadcast Info: SN1 / SN590


Rookie duo making the most of opportunity

With Patrick Patterson missing Toronto’s win against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, there was some shuffling in the typical lineups taking place. Rookie Pascal Siakam, starting in place of Jared Sullinger since opening night, played 31 minutes and made an impact with his defence (career-high tying four blocks) and his work on the glass (career-high 10 rebounds).

Fellow rookie Jakob Poeltl logged nine minutes against the Lakers, with the majority coming in the fourth quarter where the big man combo of Poeltl and Lucas Nogueira turned out to be a pleasant surprise as the Raptors built a lead with the duo on the floor.

“I thought Poeltl came in and gave us a presence,” Dwane Casey said. “Hitting people, banging people clogging up [the paint], they tried to get to the rim, he did a great job going vertical, but most of all his physicality in the paint on the boards was huge.”

Patterson is listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game.

Spurs quietly excelling as usual

With the Golden State Warriors commanding plenty of attention in the Western Conference after their offseason accession of Kevin Durant, the Spurs have been able to fly under the radar yet again. Despite continued success year after year, the Spurs seem fine with another team eating up the headlines as they continue to roll, trailing only the Warriors in the Western Conference standings with their 27-7 record.

The Spurs are 11-4 at home this season. The Raptors have lost seven straight in San Antonio and if they hope to break that streak on Tuesday they’ll need to account for Kawhi Leonard. The sixth-year forward is averaging 24 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.0 steals per game. He is shooting 46 percent from the floor and 39 percent from beyond the arc while playing stifling defence on the opponent’s best perimeter player on the opposite end of the floor.

Raptors backcourt leading the way

Toronto’s All-Star backcourt has gotten off to an All-Star start though the first two months of the season. DeMar DeRozan got things started with red-hot shooting through the month of November and has topped 30 points or more in a team-high 16 games this season. Kyle Lowry is coming off a season-high 41-point performance against the Lakers where he scored 20 points in the fourth quarter as Toronto pulled away. A week earlier he did the same thing in Utah when he scored 36 points, including 19 in the fourth to completely turn the game around in Toronto’s favour.

"We have to win,” Lowry said after Sunday’s victory in L.A. “At the end of the day, I want to win games. If it's taking the extra shot or making more shots or trying to create more shorts, that's what I want to do.”

After needing Lowry to close out victories in Utah and Los Angeles, DeRozan discussed the need for starting games the right way. Against a disciplined team like the Spurs, there isn’t room for taking a half or even a quarter off and DeRozan and Lowry know it.

“We’ve got to jump out on teams and play hard like we did in the second half, from the get go.” DeRozan said.